Holidays are an economically abnormal period. According to USA Today, the average American spends $1,189 during the holidays, creating a flurry of economic activity in a short amount of time. This activity provides opportunities and challenges, especially for the retail space. B2C business owners and managers should consider these factors during the holiday season:
An Influx of Traffic
Retailers experience more purchases and customer traffic during the holiday season, and this influx dictates the retail environment as the year ends. There are new opportunities and challenges that aren’t present during the rest of the year, so it’s important for retailers to be prepared for the difficulties, but also opportunistic for the chance to delight customers and gain new brand advocates.
Things May Go Wrong
With so much traffic, things are likely to go wrong. Customers may experience delays in deliveries, stocking of items might be inadequate or waiting times in call centers may be higher than normal. When customer experience suffers, businesses need to be ready to own up and apologize. Surprisingly, acknowledging and apologizing can be difficult for some companies and their employees. Most businesses strive to avoid situations where they need to apologize, so when the time to say “sorry” arrives, they aren’t well-versed. Failing to apologize when it’s due can turn otherwise forgiving customers away. Don’t hesitate! Believe it or not, customers tend to understand the challenges business face during the holidays. When customers hear their frustrations acknowledged and receive an apology, they tend to forgive, and the business-customer relationship remains intact.
Stresses on Systems
Employees are usually pushed to perform their best during the holidays. More specifically, their personal capacity is stretched beyond what they would normally be expected to achieve. In the retail apparel space, for example, the average store representative must help more customers, complete more transactions and move more merchandise than any other time of the year. In order to maintain a high level of customer service, they need specific coaching strategies about how to more effectively spend their time. Furthermore, management needs to give employees extra encouragement and tangible methods to manage stress and deliver the best experience possible.
Opportunity and Preparedness
Among all the stress and turmoil during the holiday shopping period, B2C enterprises can take advantage of the economic opportunity by being overly-prepared. For customer service, this means coaching their staff for an unusual and overwhelming workflow where they will have to work with more customers and delegate their time more efficiently than ever before. Additionally, managers and retail business owners need to be prepared with temporary staffing for positions like inventory management, floor sales, transaction processing and call centers. Beyond the short-term opportunity to meet holiday sales goals, businesses can gain new long-term customers by delivering a strong experience. Shoppers often explore new products and businesses during the holidays, and the long-term opportunity for repeat business needs to be sought out, even when businesses are stretched so thin. Being prepared pays off for the rest of the year.
B2B is Busy, Too
Most B2B entities are stretched thin during Q4. Among reaching sales goals, executing client projects before the year ends and setting sights on changes in 2018, most B2B enterprises are feeling the pressure. You’re not alone! More than ever, trust, communication and understanding are important among colleagues and clients alike.
Work hard, trust your colleagues and let’s all have a successful end to Q4 and 2017.
Happy holidays from the team at CSP! We wish you a wonderful end to the work year, and peace to your family and loved ones this holiday season.